Life with Judy Garland: Me and My Shadows [2001]

Pulling off the rare feat of winning Emmys for portraying the same role, Judy Davis and Tammy Blanchard raise this widely watched TV movie above the usual weepy-biopic standard. Since the project is based on a memoir by Lorna Luft, Judy Garland's "other" daughter, the emphasis is on Garland's rocky post-MGM years, spotlighting marriages, pills, and spectacular stage comebacks. Davis handles the neurotic swoops with authority; when Garland sighs on her birthday, "I'm 47 today--with my life, that makes me 412," you believe her. One thing she can't capture is Garland's onscreen incandescence: Davis's lip-syncing of "The Trolley Song" is expert but joyless. The luminous young Blanchard (who won the supporting actress trophy) has a physical and vocal resemblance to the former Frances Gumm that's often breathtaking, and the Wizard of Oz sequences look like outtakes from the real thing. Too much TV-flick telescoping dooms the movie to sketchiness, but those performances are over the rainbow. --Robert Horton

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